Warning: this article contains a distressing image of a child suffering from meningitis B. The two-year-old girl, Faye Burdett died from the disease on Valentine’s Day.
It’s a photograph that has spread far and wide through newspapers and social media. Once seen, it cannot but unseen.
Faye Burdett, aged two, died on 14 February 2016 of meningitis B. Her mother shared images of Faye taken before her illness as well as a picture from her hospital bed.
In the latter, the young girl is covered in spots and blotches, attached to wires and tubes that doctors hoped would keep her alive.
The images inspired online petitions calling for free access to the meningitis B vaccine for all children and triggered a parliamentary debate in the UK.
It also prompted other parents to share images of their children who had been affected by the disease – including an English sports star whose son very nearly succumbed to meningitis.
This picture of Matt Dawson’s son Alex was widely distributed on Facebook and Twitter, adding to pressure on health services to extend the availability of the vaccines. The resemblance to the image of Faye is striking.
The debate has been fiercest in the UK where Faye’s case received mainstream media coverage. However, it also raised questions about how decision-makers weigh public outrage when making difficult choices about how to spend scarce resources.
The meningitis B vaccine became freely available to babies in the UK last year. Parents of older children can access the jab privately if they can afford to do so. The Irish government has announced that it will follow suit by introducing the vaccine for babies born after September, and it is also available in the Czech Republic.
*Check your national vaccine schedule here*
Tell us what you think
Is it right to share these photos to highlight the reality of vaccine-preventable diseases or is it unwise to use emotive images in this way?